Kids can imagine creative ways to use their ears with this silly song.

By Grace Alexander
December 11, 2011

Do your ears hang low?

Do they wobble to and fro?

Can you tie them in a knot?

Can you tie them in a bow?

Can you throw them o'er your shoulder

Like a continental soldier?

Do your ears hang low?

Although "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" has become wildly popular as a children's rhyming song, particularly since its induction into the repertoire of Barney the Purple Dinosaur, it was originally a rude army song chanted on marches during wartime in the 1940s. The first known version was collected by Vincent Randolph in 1941, though not published until 1992; it used the word "balls" instead of "ears," and other versions that appeared in print around the same time seem to support the theory that it was a boot camp song taken to the trenches by American soldiers.

The rather obscene version may have been a starting point, but the substitution of "ears" made the tune acceptable as a children's nursery rhyme song, and in 1986 the show Kidsongs aired a syndicated video on PBS with the song accompanied by images of a basset hound with particularly droopy ears. After the well-know first stanza, this version continued:

Tell me 'bout your legs

Are they short, are they thin?

Are they tall or wide?

If you're racin' will they win?

Do they get you where you're goin'?

Are they fast or are they slowin'?

Tell me 'bout your legs.

Have you got a tail

That is pretty or is plain?

Is it curly or straight?

Have you given it a name?

Is it short or is it long?

Is it weak or maybe strong?

Have you got a tail?

Do your ears hang high?

Do they stand up in the sky?

Do they drop down when they're wet?

Do they stand up when they're dry?

Do you wave them to your neighbor

With a minimum of labor?

Do your ears hang high?

In 2000 the beloved television show character Barney sang the song, and children around the world became caught up in its catchy lyrics and tune. The melody is the same one used in the old folk song "Turkey in the Straw," which dates back to the early 1800s and was popularized in the cartoon Steamboat Willie.

Copyright © 2011 Meredith Corporation.

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Comments (1)

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December 3, 2018
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